ENGL 113 Introduction to Poetry

Find Scholarly Criticism

Using Gale Literature

Search Gale Literature by keyword / topic, author or work title.
  1. Enter a poet's name or search a work by title. Limit to Literature Criticism.
  • Remember that criticism of one poem or a collection may offer insight into another work by that poet.

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screeshot of a database

  1. This sample search of Natasha Trethewey returned several different kinds of information.

    The 24 articles of Literature Criticism listed are a mix of mainstream and scholarly criticism. Evaluate each article to assess what kind of criticism it is.
  • Scholarly criticism tends to be lengthy and sophisticated, and it will present and support a claim about the work. 
  • Scholarly criticism also tends to engage more fully with the text, citing and analyzing specific passages from the source and engaging with other critics who have analyzed that text or related ideas. 
  • Note that you may limit to Scholarly peer reviewed sources in the menu on the right, though that omits some scholarship in this database.

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ProQuest, JSTOR, Academic Search & One Search

Use a library database to search for and find scholarly articles.
  • Limit your search to scholarly (peer-reviewed) journal articles.
  • To find relevant and useful articles, you will need to consider many more. Remember to try different keywords, subject terms, and multiple databases.

Advanced Searching Tips

Type in your search terms. 

  • Put phrases (like an author's name) in quotes to search words together.
  • Use AND to connect key ideas. Ex: "Joy Harjo" AND language
  • Limit to Peer Reviewed / Scholarly to find scholarship. Note that the book reviews you find in scholarly journals are not scholarly articles.
  • You may limit to Ful Text - or leave that box unchecked to see if we have an article in another database or if you can request it through InterLibrary Loan.

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Scholarly Books

Use the Library One Search or search directly in eBook collections to find literature criticism.

What do you type in the Search box?

Search for works by Keyword or Subject Term. 

Type in a poet's name, a book title, a poetry style or movement, or a relevant keyword combination for a list of titles:

  • Example: "Natasha Trethewey"
  • Example: "Louise Gluck" AND criticism

Or, go to advanced search and enter poetry as subject. That returns nearly 3,000 print and ebooks. Other subject examples:

  • American Poetry - 20th century 
  • American Poetry - African American Authors 
  • English poetry

  • Women--Poetry

You can also browse the shelf virtually! Try this:

  • Type in this call number as a keyword for 20th century American poetry: 811.5*
  • Select one book from the list and click on its title to open the record
  • Scroll down and use the Virtual Browse feature to see what's next to it on the shelf!
Sample Book

Expanding Your Search

Extend your search for criticism beyond the Holman Library collection.

Search in WorldCat, a catalog of world libraries, and Google Scholar. Borrow articles for free with InterLibrary Loan. 

Sample Poetry Journal in our databases

Sample Poetry Journal 

The Explicator focuses on close readings of literary works. Articles in The Explicator may be helpful for your analysis of a literary work and they provide a good example of how to explicate literary texts.

Sample Criticism

excerpt from a scholarly article about Citizen: An American Lyric

From "Towards a Poetics of Racial Trauma: Lyric Hybridity in Claudia Rankine's Citizen" by Mary-Jean Chan. 

"I argue that Citizen is Rankine's attempt at creating a poetics of racial trauma which meditates on the effects of racial injustice as it manifests in the bodies of traumatized individuals. I draw upon theorists such as Judith Butler and Cathy Caruth whose work bears testament to how trauma often begins and ends with language (or its lack thereof), since moments of linguistic hurt tend to revisit individuals via memory as speech. Rankine's keen awareness of how linguistic injury registers in the body leads her to an adoption and adaptation of the lyric form, with Citizen aptly subtitled "An American Lyric." 

Chan, Mary-Jean. "Towards a Poetics of Racial Trauma: Lyric Hybridity in Claudia Rankine's Citizen." Journal of American Studies, vol. 52, no. 1, 2018, pp. 137-163. ProQuest

What is Literary Criticism?

What is Literary Criticism?

Literary criticism is analysis, interpretation and evaluation of authors and their works of literature, which can include novels, short stories, essays, plays and poetry. 

Critical analysis is often written by literary critics and is found in essays, articles, books and audiovisual sources. Some criticism is created for a mainstream audience, while scholarly criticism is meant for an academic audience.

Literary "criticism" is not necessarily negative; "criticism" means a thoughtful critique of an author's work or an author's style in order to better understand the meaning, symbolism or influences of a particular piece or a body of literature.

For your poetry analysis, use literary criticism to help you better understand your poems. Remember, your main focus is discussion of your poems, not the criticism itself.

Please note: While you may find criticism of the specific poems you are analyzing, cast your research net wide and look for criticism on the author's work as a whole, on specific themes in the author's work, on other poems by that author, or on a literary movement or moment your author is part of. And then synthesize those relevant ideas into your analysis and discussion of Your text.